« Blog

By Mike Vatter, President of OCD Jacksonville

I was 45 years old before I met my biological father. I was adopted as an infant, and I guess I never really thought much about where I came from unless I was filling out medical forms. Anything involving family medical history would have to be left blank or marked “Don’t know” because I just didn't know.

When I was 40, I did a DNA Health test to get some information on the myriad items I had to leave blank over the years. The results gave me information on my heritage, ethnicity, health predispositions.

Coincidentally, my biological father also did the same DNA test kit. Allow me to underscore that. There are 27 DNA test kits widely used in the United States. You have probably heard of the 7 most common. The top 3 outsold the next 4 by 75 million units in 2023. My biological father and I both chose the exact same kit within 6 months of each other. If either of us had chosen another kit, I would not be writing this story.

I like when things line up logically. I like when A leads to B and then to C and D. I know that sometimes my brain will allow me to jump from A to D and not lose any data, but I get frustrated when others can’t make that leap with me. I also like solving puzzles and mysteries. My husband hates it when I solve the mystery 10 minutes into a movie or show and he is still lost at the end. But this was different.

It was hard enough to twist my brain into the logic pretzel needed to accept that Scott (my biological father) and I had chosen the same test at the same time at random. What further makes my brain itch are the facts that we are both gay, we both have Generalized Anxiety Disorder (GAD), and we both have OCD. That’s a strong argument for nature over nurture to be sure.

We know that about 40% of those with OCD have a first-degree relative with OCD and approximately 33% of those with GAD will have a first-degree relative with that disorder. However, the debate over a “gay gene” has been ongoing for decades. In 2019, Northwestern University along with The Broad Institute and Mass General Hospital conducted the largest study to date and determined that there is no single gene that determines sexuality. Sexuality cannot be pinned down by biology, psychology or life experiences, this study and others show, because human sexual attraction is decided by all these factors.

Nonetheless, you could have knocked me over with the proverbial feather when each layer of commonality was revealed during that first conversation with Scott.

“I’m gay.”  “Me too!”

“I have a lot of anxiety and really hate talking on the phone.”  “Me too!”

“I’m on medication for it, it’s a disorder.”  “Me too!”

“I have OCD.”  “Me too!”

You may be asking yourself why I am telling you all of this? Well, I know a lot of us are uncomfortable with labels – especially when they are thrust upon us by others. However, labels can be extremely helpful. They let us know where our groups are so we don’t feel like we’re the only ones dealing with or struggling through something. Labels also show us where those groups intersect. For you the intersections might be that you are a woman in her 60s with OCD and Bipolar Disorder. For me, the intersections are that I am a Gay man in my 40s with OCD and GAD. Add to that your race, or the fact that I was adopted, and we have further intersections.

During Pride Month, this and every June, take a moment to acknowledge the intersectionality of the OCD community and the LGBTQIA+ community.

Make that leap with me from A to D and see that our similarities are greater than our differences.




Connect with the IOCDF's LGBTQIA+ Special Interest Group.  Find more information: https://iocdf.org/special-interest-groups/lgbtq/.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *